Thursday, 31 October 2013

Eaglemoss: Now Voyager


The sleek lines of USS Voyager await this time with the sixth issue of Eaglemoss' Official Starships Collection. Let's see how many cliches about "coming home" or "returning to the Alpha Quadrant" we can avoid...erm...whoops....

With the arrival of Voyager to the series we can now recreate those epic moments from the title sequence of the Intrepid Class ship soaring past planets and through clouds. Just wish I could stick on blue alert or swoosh her through a nebula in search of some coffee. I can dream. I can, please?!.

This more compact ship isn't top of my list on design but it is one of the series' flagships and as such is an essential in this production. There's no aztec paint scheme this time with a straight coat of grey/blue dotted with raised lifeboat hatches, phaser strips, thrusters and registry markings to complete the effect.

As a ship it's well presented and painted. There's no nacelle warp-speed-limit defying movement (due to keeping costs down) but this won't put fans off. She looks great - if basic - and this model really does display Voyager's smooth looks. That's one of the big benefits of this Eaglemoss series; seeing pictures, plans and CGI images over the years is all well and good but getting one of the starships into your hands gives you a much better understanding of them from all angles.

I actually think Voyager is a classy looker however I'm a bit put off by the fact that none of the windows are painted in (at least a coat of blue?) even though the recesses are there for all to see. In some instances such as the hatches they are there but not well defined. Some of the sensor palettes around the primary hull aren't painted in nor is the forward docking port marked. The images in the magazine do belay a few minor points that haven't translated across to the miniature here and the more you look the more you do notice inconsistencies; a shame after such great work on the windows of the Enterprise-D and the hull patterning of the NX-01.

The majority of the model (primary hull and top of the secondary hull) is recreated in metal with the lower hull and engines in plastic. The machining on Voyager is precise and the painting "in the lines" which does show the care and attention is continuing in this range. I hope that it does as a reduction in quality would detract from what Eaglemoss are attempting. It's well weighted too and in difference to the Romulan Warbird from Issue Five the ship's balance keeps it firmly in place on the display stand even though it's anchored from the back.

So to the magazine and it's another winner in my opinion even if it is due to one storming feature. There's an initial run through of the Voyager story from her kidnap by the Caretaker through to the ship's return to Earth in Endgame. There are some wonderful images collected here including stills of the Delta Flyer, the lifeboats leaving the hull in The Year of Hell and the series finale. The thing is that when you turn the page for the special feature, you can't help but be surprised and impressed.

The AeroShuttle is Voyager's equivalent of the never seen Enterprise-D Captain's yacht. The runabout-size ship is a neat little addition to the starship and in some ways its absence makes it even more desirable and welcomed as a feature in the magazine. Thanks, Eaglemoss, great to see the launch sequence detailed too that had been worked out if it were ever to be used. 

Voyager's design process is much more of a journey than we saw with Picard's starship in Issue One. Rick Sternbach's drawings of the evolution are great to pour over. The last time I saw anything about these was in the 1995 book Where No One Has Gone Before and that was only the "almost" image that opens this section. Seeing the other possibilities and discarded concepts adds a lot of depth to the Real World Voyager story. The design did go through a lot of phases, even becoming apparently over-complicated before slimming down to the dart-style offering that made the show. 

I had forgotten that Voyager was the last major Star Trek vessel to be built as a physical model and in it's final couple of seasons transferred to a computer generated version. Interestingly the CG model had to be corrected due to file corruptions. This meant that during the correction process the ship could receive some digital upgrades to be more like the original model. 

Rounding off are the on screen highlights and it's a good selection this time for the Janeway-commanded starship. It does seem, once again, that it could have done with a whole load more pages to flesh out the background, the upgrades made during the show or even a run through of the landing procedure. There's a lot that could have been covered. While the pages on the AeroShuttle are of benefit and not what you might assume would be included, Voyager does seem short-changed on detail both in print and on the model.

In conclusion it's an "OK" model in the series but certainly not the jewel in the crown to this point. The reproduction isn't bad in any form but it's perhaps not the 100% accurate starship we have been promised in all the promo materials. The minor omissions do make a difference although it's a great piece for the series. For me I'm keeping fingers crossed that Defiant is a better example.

Next in line before then is the K'T'Inga Battlecruiser which I really am looking forward to and will complement the refit NCC-1701 from Issue Two as both are featured in The Motion Picture. As a side note here, the retailer I purchased this from was surprised they were still stocking the magazine after six issues - a sign that it's been a success or are we going to be having trouble locating future editions? 

And Finally... I was looking for a reference to the only other Intrepid Class starship featured in the Star Trek universe in this edition but there wasn't a one....can you remember what it was called and where we saw her...?

Issue Six is now available and you can also subscribe to the collection here.

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